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Final Countdown

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Welcome to Group A’s October edition of the Secret Recipe Club!!!  Regardless of how sick/tired/pregnant I’ve been over the past few months, this is the one challenge I keep signing up for because I LOVE all the recipes I’m exposed to.  This month was no different, as I got to explore Baking and Creating with Avril which is stuffed with delicious treats.  Apparently I was having an apple craving when I first checked out her blog as three of the top five recipes featured apples!   This included her Apple Cinnamon Rolls with cream cheese, Apple Pie Cheesecake (nom!!!), and her easy applesauce muffins which I plan on making this week to go with some pumpkin chili.  In the end I decided to go savory instead of sweet and also embrace the fall season by making her incredible Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup.  I also enjoyed the reading the history of this recipe, as it originally came from a friend of hers.  I wound up making one change to the recipe and totally blaming it on pregnancy brain.  When I wrote down my shopping list I had one can of pumpkin puree and two cans of black beans.  It wasn’t until later in the week when I went to make the soup that I realized I had transposed the numbers.  While I debated waiting until the following week to make the soup, I wanted to give it a go anyway – figuring if it was a total wreck I could still make it again.  I also adjusted the cooking method for the spice, when using curry powder I prefer to add it at the beginning and “toast” it per a tip I found in an Indian cookbook.  I’m not sure if it does anything, but it’s become a habit!


In the end, I think it worked best for my family that I only used one can.  While you could still taste the pumpkin it wasn’t PUMPKIN which is a good thing to me.  I do want to make this again the “right” way and since this comes together so quickly this is easily a recipe that can work post-baby!


Home Cooking · Slow Cooker · Vegan

Cold Outside

Sweet Potato Chili

Sweet Potato Chili

Looking out the window it’s more than a little clear Mother Nature has forgotten to take her medication.  We’re almost a week in to spring yet there is snow on the ground and more falling from the sky, which isn’t exactly spring in my book.  This is the time of year for starting a garden, looking at the Cherry Blossoms, and sorting through the past season’s clothes.  Instead I’m pulling out my snow boots and trying to figure out how to navigate my curvy slightly hilly street in order to get to the main roads and work.  However I have a secret recipe for days like this: sweet potato chili.  My first experience with this vegan delight was at my in-laws the day we told them we were engaged, needless to say just one bite of this winter weather soup warms me up heart and soul.  This is a slightly spicier version of that soup, but for a gentler variation just leave out the jalapeno and add chili powders to taste.


I enjoy topping mine with some Greek Yogurt while Joe tends to go for shredded cheese and sour cream – either option is delicious!  This dish can also be done in the slow cooker, follow the above directions and after the onion/garlic have cooked just add everything to the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hrs or high for 2.5 hrs.  For those seeking an even hotter chili, switch the jalapeno for a serrano (or habanaro!) pepper.

Note: So Delicious has no idea who I am, I just enjoy their products and more often then not they have awesome coupons on their website!

Second Note: Yes there is a hair on the lens but it wasn’t noticed until the picture was inserted and the last of the chili had been devoured – sorry!!!!


This or That

 Creamy Double Potato SoupcreamDoublePotatoSoup

We had another spell of cold weather the other week, so another nice warm soup to go along with it.  I guess when it comes to names I could have called this a de-constructed Baked Potato Soup but I was afraid that might be a violation of Chef Law.  Obviously I need to cut back on my Top Chef watching, but even with all but one of my favorites gone I can’t stop watching to see what might happen last.  I have finally recovered from the loss of Tiffani but I’m still trying to figure out how Tiffany is still there.  However I don’t think there is some conspiracy going on with who has been eliminated, I’m not that cynical, or paranoid, yet.  There have been a number of interesting recipes this season and I plan on trying a few of those in the next month, see if I can bring some of that Top Chef magic home.  It should be noted that this potato soup is not based on Angelo’s, I made this the day before that episode aired and knew he was done when he added bacon AND salt in the final 30minutes.

1 lb butter potatoes, skinned and cubed
1/2 lb red potatoes, skinned and cubed
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 cup (soy) milk

1. Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease a large roasting pan.
2. Lay the potatoes on the roasting pan and light cover in Olive Oil along with some salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning once to prevent sticking.  
3.  Meanwhile bring the stock and water to a slow boil.  Gently add the potatoes and cook for 30minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.  Blend the mixture using a hand immersion blender or using a blender, spooning the mixture in portions if needed.  Season to taste and turn heat down to medium. 
4.  Add the milk, along with some pepper, and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  Serve!

I served ours topped with some mixed cheese and some nice crusty French Bread.  A dollop of sour cream and chives would also be nice addition if you really want to go the de-constructed baked potato route. 


Tis the Season

Cream of Mushroom Soup


Greetings to everyone this snowy evening.  Originally the weather man was calling for up to 3inches of snow however I think that we are probably going to see a foot before this winter storm ends.  The only good thing about this weather is that it presents the perfect reason for nice warm soups and stews.  There is nothing as warming as a nice soup on a cold evening, especially if some fresh bread is close by.  I tend to prefer thick and creamy soups, ones that you can almost stand a spoon up in.  Nothing against all those broth soups out there, there is just something about a creamy soup.  Tonight’s soup is one of the first creamy soups that I attempted back in college, and when I realized that just because “cream” is in the name of a soup it doesn’t mean that it requires large amounts of actual cream.  
Ingredients:- 2tbsp butter- 1/2 onion, chopped- 3 garlic cloves, minced- 2 cups bella mushrooms, diced- 2 cups white mushrooms, diced- 3 tbsp flour- 2 cups veg. broth- 1 cup water- 2 tbsp sherry- 1/2 cup half&half
Directions:1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, then add the mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.2. Pour in the broth and season to taste with parsley, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, stirring, then turn heat down and simmer covered for 10minutes.  Pour soup into blender (or use hand immersion blender) and mix well.  Return the soup to the pan keeping over med-low heat and add the half&half.  Simmer for 10 minutes and SERVE!
I served mine topped with a dollop of sour cream with some French Bread on the side to help scoop up all the good stuff.  One of the best things about this soup is that it tastes like it was cooking all day but takes around half an hour until it’s on the table.   


Be Replaced

Butternut Squash Soup

Hello all of you out there in blog-land.  How is the New Year treating you so far?  Right now things are a little hectic over here but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things will settle back down again shortly.  I’ve been relaxing in the kitchen, testing out all of my new kitchen toys and seeing how many I can use in one meal.  I must say that I am in love with my immersion blender, it just makes everything so much easier.  Part of me is wondering how I survived making soup without one, that’s how wonderful this handy little tool is.  I just combine that with my new dutch oven and I am one happy cook 🙂  Tonight’s recipe features both the dutch oven and the immersion blender, but it can still be made using a standard soup pot and a blender.  Just make sure the lid is  secure on the blender in order to avoid painting the walls an amazing shade of orange.  Not that I have any experience with doing that….
– 3lb squash
– 2tsp pepper
– 2tsp salt
– 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp butter
– 3 cloves garlic
– 1/2 onion, diced
– 2 cups vegetable stock
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 cup half and half
– 2 tsp vanilla
– salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425.  Lightly grease a roasting pan or a large cookie sheet.
2. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.  Dab with butter and top with the salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Roast in oven for 45minutes.  Allow squash to cool slightly, then peel and cube.  

3.  Once the squash has been removed from the oven begin to heat the butter and olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the squash once the butter has fully melted.  Cook the squash for 5minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.  Add the garlic and onion and cook an additional 5-7minutes, or until the onion has softened.
4.  Turn heat down to medium high and add the vegetable stock and water.  Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 10minutes stirring occasionally.  
5. Meanwhile in a small bowl mix the half and half with the vanilla.  Place in fridge and chill until ready to add to soup.
6.  Once the soup has simmered for 10minutes, either use immersion blender to puree the soup or remove the soup in parts to a blender.  After the soup has been pureed add the half&half vanilla mixture to the soup.  Season the soup to taste and allow to simmer for an additional 10-15minutes.  Serve!

I am a true sucker for winter soups but for the longest time I avoided butternut squash soup, something about it just turned me off.  Then I watched an episode of Top Chef that featured a Vanilla Love Butternut Squash Soup, or something like that, and after realizing there was no way I could do a vanilla foam I decided to start experimenting some more with the soup.  While this soup is not as creamier as some versions out there, I feel like it really allows the butternut squash to come out.  If I knew more about the science of cooking maybe I could tell you if that was because of the vanilla, or if it’s just the simple lack of heavy creams.  What I can tell you is that this soup is perfect for a chilly winter night, just add a nice piece of crusty bread to go with it.


Alles schläft

Mexican Potato Corn Chowder


Tis that time again: International Incident Blog Party!  While I joined into the festivities a little late in the year I had a great time and hope to do it again next year.  From working with lavender to messing around with salted caramel I learned new technique and tricks and had fun.  For the final month the “secret ingredient” was more of a “secret theme” of COLOURS! When I first read that I had two thoughts 1) hehe they said colours 2) flashing back to college and going with my friends to get Indian food.  It was our thing to go on Sunday mornings, as a hangover cure if you will.  Everytime without fail my one friend would make a comment about how to her the Indian food tasted like colors.  For example the palak paneer tasted green while the butter chicken tasted orange.  I’m not sure how this worked, but it also made for an entertaining experience.  My first thought was to attempt to create some Indian dishes, until I was reminded about previous Indian cooking (mis)adventures.  So on to something else. Something colorful and exciting and suitable for the chilly weather.  I thinking my brain process then did something along the lines of warm:soup:spinach:corn:corn chowder:potato corn chowder: Mexican Potato Corn Chowder.  A nice hardy soup with yellows and greens, and then some delicious cheesy corn bread to keep it company.  I decided to take the recipe I had for Potato Corn Chowder, one that in its original form came from the back of a can of new potatoes, and start modifying it.  I knew I wanted to make it creamier than the original and also wanted to spice it up.  I also decided to use my slow cooker, which wound up working out perfectly.

2  12ozcans creamed corn
1 12oz can corn (drained)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup half & half
1 1b potatoes, cubed
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced and seeded (optional)
2 tsp chili powder
1 cup favorite cheese (I used Colby but Jack or a sharp cheddar would also work well)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Turn slow cooker to low and add all the ingredients except the onion and cheese.  Stir well.  
2. Add some oil to a small pan and gently saute the onions over medium heat until they start to brown, about 7minutes.  Add to slow cook and cook 7-8hrs on low.
3.  Remove half of the soup and blend well.  Return to slow cooker.  
2. Turn heat to high and add the cheese stirring well.  Season to taste and then cook for an additional hour.  Serve!

I topped mine off with some blue chips in order to add a little more crunch (and color) which wound up working perfectly.  If you have a hand emulsion blender this recipe is a prime example of why those are so amazingly.  Getting the soup into the blender was a pain but the thickness it adds to the recipe is worth the hassle.